Intended for healthcare professionals


Gene patent ruling could thwart research, experts fear

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 20 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1144
  1. David Brill
  1. 1Sydney

Private companies can hold patents over human genes once they have been isolated from the body, according to a landmark ruling by the Australian Federal Court.

The judgment, which upheld Myriad Genetics’s—a US based molecular diagnostics company—patent on the BRCA1 gene, could have far reaching implications for genetics in Australia. Experts fear it could hamper access to genetic testing, drive up costs, and stymie future research.

Gene patents have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years in Australia, but their validity had not been previously tested in court.

The case was brought by Cancer Voices Australia, a patient advocacy group, and Yvonne D’Arcy, a 66 …

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